Parish councillors back controversial plans for Co-operative foodstore in village

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Parish councillors have backed controversial plans for a Co-operative shop in Ixworth despite warnings that it could ‘kill the village’.

Six members of Ixworth and Ixworth Thorpe Parish Council supported the proposals to convert the showroom at Fordham’s Ford Dealership into an Anglia Co-operative foodstore.

Three members voted against the plans at an emotionally charged meeting last night where residents voiced their concerns about the impact on independent businesses on the village High Street.

Resident Peter Gair said: “If you allow this to go through you might aswell the death warrant for Ixworth as a village. Their business plan is going to kill the village.”

A petition against the move, which was signed by more than 1,600 people, was handed to the council.

Adrian Chapman, who runs convenience store Chapman Stores, said: “It’s about community and we offer that.”

Kelvin McDonald, retail operations manager for Anglia Co-operative, said: “Our stores actually compliment the local community. It isn’t there to come in as an aggressor to destroy everything else that’s local.”

He said the store would employ between 30 to 35 local people. It will also have 25 off-road parking spaces.

After the meeting, Teresa Plummer, chairman of the parish council, said the plans ‘will at least give the villagers choice’.

Parish Cllr Ben Lord said he made an FOI request to St Edmundsbury Borough Council which revealed that in 1996 Fordham’s Garage lost about 17,000 litres of petroleum due to a suspected leak.

An investigation found that the loss of petroleum had ‘adversely impacted both soils and groundwater at the site’ and ‘it was likely that the site could be determined as contaminated land’.

When asked by the Bury Free Press about this issue, Tim Partridge, operational director for agent RPS Planning and Development, said: “The contamination that was talked about has largely disappeared now because of the nature of it - it just dissipates.

“They’ve done some work on what’s there but they possibly might just need to do a proving exercise to prove that it’s clean now.”

A final decision on the plans will be made by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.